Cannabis news briefs: NCIA Lobby Days under way, Colorado breaks sales records, Walmart looking at CBD sales and much more
NCIA sets 3 Intense "Lobby Days" in DC
Hundreds of national cannabis businesses are flocking to Washington DC for the 9th annual NCIA Lobby Days. Tuesday, May 21, NCIA will host a breakfast and legislative briefing on H.R. 1595: The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. This legislation, which currently has 180 co-sponsors in the House and was approved in a bipartisan vote in the House Financial Services Committee earlier this year, would protect financial institutions which want to work with cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state laws. Speakers include: bill sponsors Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO); Michelle Rutter, government relations manager for NCIA; Tanner Daniel, vice president of the American Banking Association; Becky Dansky, executive director of the Safe and Responsible Banking Alliance; and Gail Rand, chief financial officer for ForwardGro, the first of 15 companies licensed to cultivate cannabis in Maryland. Visits to Congressional offices will continue all day on May 22-23.
On Thursday, May 23, NCIA will be joined by representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) for a breakfast and briefing on the rollout of NCIA’s new report, “Increasing Equity in the Cannabis Industry: Six Achievable Goals for Policy Makers,” and MCBA’s Model Municipal Social Equity Ordinance. Speakers include Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ); Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA); Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA); Shanita Penny, president of MCBA; and Khurshid Khoja, NCIA vice-chair, and principal of Greenbridge Corporate law firm.
FDA Public Hearing “Scientific Data and Information about Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-Derived Compounds” scheduled for May 31
For more information on the May 31 FDA Public Hearing “Scientific Data and Information about Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-Derived Compounds,” visit http://jifsan.umd.edu/events/preview/99.
Also, a video of the days 10 hours of testimony will be streamed at https://collaboration.fda.gov/cannabispart15.
The FDA docket now has over 500 comments from industry professionals, academics, health professionals and consumers regarding CBD. Make sure your voice is heard by submitting your comments prior to the hearing. Final comments will be due July 2nd.
Colorado sets all-time high with $142 million in cannabis sales
Colorado cannabis sales for March 2019 set an all-time record nearing $142.4 million, an astounding number coming in a non-tourist month and with prices dropping. Since the state began its recreational marijuana program in Feb. 2014, Colorado has received $993.2 million in state sales tax and fees, with a gross 5-year sales total surpassing $6.43 billion. For 2019, statewide tax is averaging $29.2 million per month, with 2019 first quarter cannabis sales at $386.7 million. The closest prior record for Colorado sales was $141 million in August 2018, a heavy tourist month. March was up 16 percent from February retails sales, with adult-use contributing $114.3 million and $28.1 million for medical.
AGs press Congress on banking legislation
Attorneys General from 33 states wrote a letter to Congress to urge passage of cannabis banking legislation known as The SAFE Banking Act, which the House Financial Services Committee advanced in March. So far the bill has 175 co-sponsors from both parties. The letter, which is an attempt to move the marijuana business out of a financial gray area and into the regulated banking sector stated in part:
"Regardless of how individual policymakers feel about states permitting the use of medical or recreational marijuana, the reality of the situation requires federal rules that permit a sensible banking regime for legal businesses ... Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states and territories, with state and territorial input, while protecting the interests of the federal government. This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy."
California legislature again considering state-chartered cannabis banks
The California State Senate is currently considering a bill that would allow marijuana businesses to bank with state-chartered banks and credit unions. Senate Bill 51 would establish state-chartered banks and credit unions that could provide typical banking services to marijuana retailers and growers. “As policymakers, we have a duty to further the will of the voters while protecting the public safety of our constituents,” author of the bill California Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg said during a Press Release last month, upon introducing SB 51.
“This measure is by no means the ultimate solution, but it’s just one small step in the right direction to get some of this money off the streets and into bank accounts.” If passed as currently written, SB 51 would allow private banks or credit unions to apply for a state charter, enabling these banks to provide specific services to state-licensed cannabis firms, growers, and retailers. A similar bill by Hertzberg, SB 930 was introduced last year and failed to make it off of the Suspense List.
WalMart, Target, Safeway, and Kroger looking at CBD sales
According to a New York Post report from May 12, WalMart, Kroger, and Safeway are all named as requesting CBD samples. The Post story states: “The Post has learned that top executives at major chains such as Walmart and Target have been quietly meeting with makers of drinks, gummy bears, topical creams, and oils that are infused with cannabidiol, or CBD … The chains, which also include big supermarkets such as Kroger and Safeway, are requesting samples of CBD products, along with lab results and pricing information, manufacturers said.”
Gov. Whitmer of Michigan fires cannabis board
New Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has fired the board overseeing cannabis policy in the state. Whitmer ran on creating a $2.5 billion fund to fix the state's crumbling roads. Part of the funding will increase drivers' gas tax to 45 cents a gallon, which prompted a question of why marijuana taxes couldn't be used at a May 3 area chamber lunch. Witmer replied, "Every man, woman, and child [in Michigan] would have to buy $2,500 worth of weed a year." Rather than the projected $140 thousand a month in recreational revenue, the fund would actually need every Michigan adult to buy 216 pounds a year. Whitmer quipped, "If we were consuming that much, would any of us really care about the damn roads anymore?" Nonetheless, the governor wants quick action to implement the start of RMJ sales.
Pot attorney says only 1 in 30 weed smugglers get caught at LAX
More than a year after recreational marijuana was legalized in California, trafficking arrests have surged 166 percent at Los Angeles International Airport. This is according to the Los Angeles Times which recently obtained arrest records from LAX, the world’s fourth-busiest airport. According to a report by PotNetwork’s Sean McCaughan, “Cannabis traffickers without a prior drug or violent offense will only receive a misdemeanor charge. So, naturally, more smugglers with a lot of cannabis on their hands (knowing they’ll be lightly punished if caught while the plane is still in California) are stuffing suitcases full of it and hopping on a plane.”
Marijuana remains a low priority for police in the state. The report continues, “When TSA agents, who are under federal jurisdiction, discover marijuana in a passenger’s luggage, they call the police, who are under state jurisdiction and can’t do a thing.”
Even the DEA is not worried. Kyle Mori of the Los Angeles DEA office said, “Heroin trafficking and the diversion of chemicals and pharmaceuticals into the hands of gang members and violent criminals — those are certainly our priority.” According to defense attorney Bill Kroger Jr., “This is normal procedure for these guys, and I would say 29 out of 30 times they make it through without a problem.”
NY and NJ put rec. MJ on simmer
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, in recent weeks recreational marijuana bills in both New Jersey and neighboring New York State have come unraveled. However, unraveled does not necessarily mean completely dead. While New York lawmakers attempt to stitch together a new bill, New Jersey has kicked its adult-use measures down the road into 2020 in favor of a medical program upgrade. Read all about it here.
Tilray reports $23 million in revenue
Tilray has issued first quarter 2019 sales figures, reporting higher revenues at $23 million, (including sales by a new subsidiary, Manitoba Harvest). However, the Canadian LP also posted a dismal loss of $27.9 million — four-times larger than a year earlier. Over at CNBC, Jim Kramer noted Tilray stock shot up from $100 to about $300 within a matter of days last October, just prior to legalization in Canada. The stock collapsed to $100 a month later and has been below $50 for much of 2019. “In Tilray’s case, there haven’t been any major negative catalysts,” Kramer said. “It’s just the stock should never have been so high in the first place.”
Vegas’ Digipath Labs introduces portable cannabis testing kit
Digipath Labs of Las Vegas is now introducing a new portable cannabis testing module which can tell growers the level of THC in their plants at all stages. Referring to hemp THC limits, Digipath chief scientist, Dr. Cindy Orser, says bluntly, all that law enforcement wants to know, is "can they reliably test this plant, and find out who has exceeded the strict .03 THC limit." But issues around testing have confounded the hemp experts. Some states want to test the upper or flower parts of the plant, while others have agreed to combine all parts of a CBD/hemp plant to “average” out the overall THC. Carpio notes that the USDA must still resolve if the THC limit is based upon just delta-9 percentages, or the total amount of THC, THCa, THCv, and other trace THC elements found in the plant. A new statewide California requirement to submit a recent (30-day) certificate-of-analysis for seed sellers, may again delay widespread hemp farming there.
Grandmother arrested for CBD threatens to sue Disney World for false imprisonment
A great-grandmother arrested at Disney World for possession of peppermint flavored CBD is demanding an apology from Disney and the Orange County Sherriff’s office for violating her civil rights. The woman, 69-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter of North Carolina, has retained the services of high profile attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family in the aftermath of his shooting. Learn more here.